Clayton Roxborough
ACMA Chairman

Chairman’s message

Plenty of reasons for optimism

Welcome to the 2023 Autumn edition of the Eye for Detail. In this edition of the ACMA e-magazine, I believe we have a great line-up of engaging articles that have been sent in by our members and associated organisations.

Among other things, we discuss issues that are directly impacting the Construction Modelling industry, and steel construction more broadly, including anticipated trends in construction and several interesting pieces on the topic of training and professional development of steel detailers. We also revisit the subject of 3D modelling software licencing which triggered so much angst and discussion among Construction Modelers at last year’s National Detailers Forum.

On the economic front however, things don’t look promising. The latest NAB survey shows the business confidence index lost 10 points in February, marking the lowest point since November last year and falling below its long-run average amid high inflation and surging borrowing costs. Other media is reporting a huge increase in company collapses across Australia, particularly in housing and construction with an estimated 5 builders being declared insolvent every day. The demise of builders happened as shipping costs soared amid pandemic delays and the price of building materials and labour skyrocketed.

ABS data shows reinforcing steel prices jumped 42.2 per cent over 2021/22, structural timber by 40.7 per cent, steel beams and sections by 37.6 per cent, and plywood and board by 35.6 per cent. At the same time labour costs have jumped by almost 10 per cent across all trades.

Union and peak trade association representatives from across the construction industry have been calling on federal government to do more to protect the payments and livelihoods of subcontractors before they face collapse, and the word from insolvency and industry analysts is that many more small and medium sized business will fall over in the coming months, particularly in construction.

While this news is very sobering for any small business in the construction industry, there are still strong forecasts for work in the steel construction sector. Government infrastructure marches on with new schools, public transport, hospitals, roads and bridges,  and communications all slated for expansion right around the country.

In the Pilbara, the Onslow Iron project (formerly known as the Ashburton project) is expected to deliver thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in direct local investment and billions of dollars of royalties over the life of the project.

The ABC reports that as part of the Onslow project, Mineral Resources is building a $100 million “resort” for its FIFO workers.

Early works are underway as part of the development phase, with all equipment expected on site by June 2023 and first ore on ship targeted as early as December this year.

Meanwhile, the South Australian Government is primed to invest more than half a billion dollars to become a world-class, low-cost green hydrogen supplier, with a range of new hydrogen projects being delivered in the state.

In the Northern Territory, Santos Ltd, has partnered with ICN NT to help identify Australian suppliers for the Bayu-Undan carbon capture and storage project, which has the potential to be the largest of its kind in the world.

Over in Queensland, local suppliers have the chance to get involved in a $111.2 million upgrade of three Defence sites across Townsville and Cairns. In Brisbane, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) and Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL) are planning to convert Incitec’s Gibson Island H2’s green hydrogen into green ammonia.

And although the 2032 Brisbane Olympics may still be a decade away, a raft of development and infrastructure projects are ready to break ground following planning discussions between the Brisbane City Council and the International Olympics Committee.

As many as 14 new sports venues in Brisbane, seven on the Gold Coast and five on the Sunshine Coast were proposed as part of Brisbane’s original Olympic bid.

Across the border in New South Wales, a new gas-fired power station planned for the Hunter Valley region is set to ensure NSW electricity supply after Muswellbrook’s Liddell Power Station shuts down in April 2023. Together, the new pipeline and the Hunter Power Project equate to more than $800 million in spending and 650 construction jobs.

Further south, a 300-megawatt Walla Walla Solar Farm has received a $100 million funding boost from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, making it the largest solar farm the corporation has ever financed.

In Victoria, suppliers have the opportunity to submit expressions of interest in stage two of the $541.6 million Ballarat Base Hospital redevelopment.

Artist impression of the first of the new building to be constructed.

The Ballarat Base Hospital Redevelopment is scheduled for completion in 2027.

I have touched on just a few of the headline projects touted in industry in recent times, but with so much work in the development pipeline, all across Australia, there is certainly reason for Steel Detailers to remain optimistic for a busy year ahead.

Clayton Roxborough | Chairman
Australian Construction Modellers Assocation

2023 Australian Steel Convention

The Australian Steel Convention is back in 2023, and this year it promises to be bigger and better than ever before!  Arranged by the Australian Steel Institute (ASI), the Steel Convention is one of the most anticipated events in the steel industry, bringing together professionals, industry experts, and thought leaders from across the country to discuss the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in the steel industry.

Whether you’re a seasoned steel industry veteran or just starting out in the field, the Australian Steel Convention has something for everyone. With a comprehensive program featuring keynote presentations, panel discussions, forums, and networking events, the convention provides attendees with unparalleled opportunities to learn, share knowledge, and connect with others in the industry.

In addition to the informative sessions, the convention also offers numerous networking opportunities. Attendees can connect with industry peers and forge new relationships through social events, and via a Forum specifically for Steel Detailers/Construction Modellers.

Steel as the preferred building material and why you should Choose Steel as a career will be key themes at this year’s Convention to be held at the Sofitel Melbourne on 10 – 12 September.

What to expect:

  • A young achievers panel will share their career stories – and help shape a new Australian Steel Institute’s (ASI) ‘careers-in-steel’ strategy.
  • Project case studies are back by demand, showcasing the innovative solutions across a myriad of project applications and steel product groups.
  • Popular TV personality and academic Adam Spencer will guide us through an entertaining and informative program, full of energy and valuable insights for your business.
  • There will be valuable insights as to what is happening around the globe, and how these topics affect your business from a global and local perspective.
  • The 2023 convention will present the ASI Choose Steel campaign – an exciting promotional campaign putting steel at the forefront of the public eye as Australia’s preferred building material – and how you can get involved with your steel solutions.

For further information and to register, please go to the ASI website at

ACMA Has a LinkedIn Page

A reminder to all members that the ACMA has a Linkedin page.

We have had some recent activity in the form of Detailer related articles which may be of interest to you.

Currently we are sitting at 344 followers and if you are not a member of the group yet please jump in and request entry

We would love to see what Detailer related discussion you have to share to our community.

Philippine Construction Modelers Association or PCMA, how it all began.

Midway through 2018, Philippines-based Russell Neal was attending the NISD, National Institute of Detailing AGM in the US as he is a board member. During this time, he was approached by other board members about the possibility of setting up a NISD Chapter in The Philippines. That was the spark that lit the fire.  After talking to a few people and getting advice other NISD members, Russell invited several people to attend the inaugural meeting of the PCMA.

On 28th February 2019, 21 attendees representing 12 companies, and around 2,000 detailers, attended our first ever meeting. This has grown to 30 attendees representing 19 companies.

The meeting started with welcomes and round table introductions by all. Russell then introduced himself to everyone and how he become involved in steel detailing in The Philippines.  He touched on his involvement in the NISD (National Institute of Steel Detailing). He saw his role in the NISD and his lengthy time in The Philippines as an opportune position to be able to look at forming an organization similar to the NISD in the US and the Australian Construction Modelers Association in Australia.

Greg Brawley from PDC (now DBM Group) has been involved his whole 50 plus year career in the steel detailing industry. Greg shared his knowledge in creating such organizations, he enlightened participants about the purpose, benefit, and downfalls of such.  Greg encompassed the whole principal of growing the organization in a neutral and noncompetitive, noncombative environment. Noting that it was much better to have your competitors and allies all working together jointly on the challenges facing the industry today, rather than being on the outside looking in.

So that was the beginning. What have we achieved since?

From that inaugural meeting February 2019 the PCMA has achieved quote a lot. Whilst many of the established goals of the PCMA were only just starting to be attended to by the end of our first year, the main achievements were predominately focused on the formation, legal and administrative tasks needed.

With the set up and formalization of the organization out of the way, we then focused a couple of meetings predominately around what the members thought their expectations of the organization should be. Many ideas were discussed and presented, and nine top items were identified.

  1. Poaching
  2. Licensing
  3. Training – Nationwide
  4. Profession Recognition
  5. Job Fairs
  6. Offer (detailing) subjects in universities
  7. Creating Career Opportunities
  8. Resource Sharing
  9. Level the playing field

It was decided that we could not achieve all of the expectations at once and we would initially focus on the top three.

The first choice was resource sharing, where the members of the organization can share their resources with other member companies. This can help with the members resource planning and help maintain a more level commitment, rather than an all or nothing format we generally need to deal with.

There were also concerns around the rampant use of illegal software locally. It was decided that the PCMA will not become policemen or enforcers, however we wish to encourage at all times integrity of our members.  Especially when it comes to legality of all software and business licenses. Both to protect the members employees and the reputation of the industry from the Philippines.

The executive committee determined that the creation of a Standards of Practice document would be a great way as to formulate some policy and to communicate regarding the unethical recruitment of staff, and other business practices that may result in “unfair” basis of competition. This document would also fall under the objective of leveling the playing field.

Third priority would be Nationwide Training. During Executive Committee Meetings, Greg Brawley noted that when developing a training program, we must consider key points including, creating reasonable curriculum, how would companies deliver the training, and how they apply the training tools, as some examples.

Initially we started to make contact with the universities and a letter of introduction was sent to some of the major institutions. However, this was just prior to covid and we will need to re-introduce ourselves and follow up on this objective.

Whilst these were the top three voted to be worked on, the executive committee started also doing prep work on a few other objectives.

Poaching is one of the areas of concern within the industry in The Philippines, especially by new companies starting up. It was expressed by members, the frustration regarding cost to engage, upskill and look after staff is wasted when a new company comes along and offers significantly higher wages to entice the employee to leave and join their company.

Going forward, PCMA president, Mr Russell Neal, will be attending the Australian Steel Convention and the annual Australian Construction Modelers Association meeting, where he will further represent and share information about our organization. He will also be attending as a board member the NISD AGM where he will again represent us.

Advance Steel Letter

For those of you reading this newsletter, you may or may not be aware of Autodesk’s decision to place Advanced steel in “maintenance mode”.

The announcement was made on the Autodesk site on the 29th of March of this year:

The article notes that in 2014, Autodesk acquired Advanced Steel “with the vision to connect design and construction through fabrication.  This gave AutoCAD users a pathway to BIM and provided detailers the tools to execute on projects and grow competitively within a changing project delivery landscape.”

Those who have been around long enough may remember that Autodesk did have another Steel Detailing package prior to Advanced Steel called Structural Detailing. Its discontinuation was announced in 2018, citing: “Autodesk is aggressively investing in new structural detailing solutions that support a wider range of modeling and documentation needs, while providing improved team collaboration and user productivity. Autodesk believes that these new solutions are better suited to meet the range of our global customer needs.”

On the 31st of March of this year, Graitec, the original developer of Advanced Steel released a statement, announcing how they plan to bring value to the product:

Does this mean that Autodesk still owns Advanced Steel and Graitec plan to develop this PowerPack of functionalities as they call it, on their behalf? It’s all a bit difficult to understand as there doesn’t appear to be any clear explanation on future of Advanced Steel.

One would have to assume that the decision to discontinue Structural Detailing was made long before the announcement in 2018, as the acquisition of Advanced Steel was made in 2014, and surely the shift from one software to the next, as Autodesk try and find their feet with a Steel Detailing software solution, must be a bitter pill for the users of these tools to swallow.

It takes a very long time to master BIM software and it takes even longer to set it up in a Steel Detailing business and make it a profitable tool. Having this level of disruption can cause unimaginable disruption to any business.

Autodesk’s vision appears to be seeing Revit as their latest solution. In this latest announcement they mention empowering engineers to blend their design intent and fabrication specification into a BIM, by modelling connections.

Have Autodesk completely missed the mark again?  Engineers are already time poor, are they seriously going to find the time within the project schedule to model connections to an LOD only really understood by a Steel Detailer and document the design? Let’s face it, Engineers are very knowledgeable, but there is a lot about our industry that they aren’t fully aware of.

The references to LOD in this latest announcement come with no qualification either, they just expect the reader to understand what “Parametric BIM Modeling to Steel LOD 400 in Revit” means. It’s all well and good making these statements, but Autodesk could have dug a bit deeper on the detail. Pausing development on the only real competition to Tekla in the Steel Detailing market is a pretty big deal to many!

The questions for Autodesk on this announcement are:

  • How long will the maintenance mode on Advanced Steel last before it can no longer be used? Or will Graitec continue to maintain this into the future?
  • When will Revit be at a point where it can be used for Steel Detailing? And when will these software costs be announced?
  • Will tools currently in Advanced Steel be migrated over to Revit so that current users of the software have some familiar foundation to work with?
  • Will the new proposed Steel detailing Revit solution be IFC (Industry foundation Classes) compatible?
  • Will any IFC output in the new Steel Detailing platform have more Pset data available for export? Advanced Steels Pset data appears to be very limited and don’t cover all Steel Detailing requirements to industry.

If you are confused with all these announcements and lack of clarity around the ownership and direction of Advanced Steel, you wouldn’t be alone.

Ohh and thanks for the following statement at the end of the announcement, this really helps anyone trying to make plans for the longevity of their Steel Detailing business.

Safe Harbor Statement:

We may make statements regarding planned or future development efforts for our existing or new products and services. These statements are not intended to be a promise or guarantee of future delivery of products, services or features but merely reflect our current plans, which may change. Purchasing decisions should not be made based upon reliance on these statements. Autodesk assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist or change after the date on which they were made.

Governments Fund $7 Billion for Brisbane 2032 Olympics

By Clayton Roxborough

Architectural concept rendering of the proposed Brisbane Live Arena.

The Queensland Government will fund the $2.7 billion redevelopment of the Gabba while the Federal Government will provide $2.5 billion for the Brisbane Arena development.

Sixteen new or upgraded venues will receive close to $1.87 billion in co-funding on a 50/50 basis between the two governments.

The $2.7 billion Gabba Stadium redevelopment will see the Stadium fully demolished and rebuilt, with improved disability access and better transport connection. Along with connecting Cross River Rail and the Brisbane Metro, it will deliver a walkable connection to South Bank and Brisbane CBD via Brisbane City Council’s new green bridge. The Gabba redevelopment will also anchor major urban renewal delivering more housing including social and affordable housing.

Architectural concept rendering of the new Olympic Stadium at the Gabba

The new Gabba will include a pedestrian walkway linking the stadium to the new Cross River Rail station and future Metro station, via a bridge over Main Street, providing greater accessibility for those with all levels of mobility, making it one of the most accessible stadiums in the country. During the planning stages, four options were considered which included variations of full demolition and rebuild, refurbishment of the existing stadium, and partial demolition and refurbishment. Given the complexity of building on a constrained site, completely rebuilding the Gabba provides the best value for money and makes the Gabba fully compliant with the requirements of hosting Brisbane 2032 events.

The Gabba redevelopment will mean better spectator viewing, more seats, and purpose-designed access to new transport infrastructure, including more roof coverage to protect sports fans from the elements.

A competitive tender process is expected to commence in the second half of 2023 at which point a final design process will get underway in 2026 and construction is scheduled take four years.

Artist’s impression of Woolloongabba Rail Station

Meanwhile, the Federal Government will fully fund the new Brisbane Arena, also known as Brisbane Live with $2.5 billion in federal funds. The arena will host Olympic and Paralympic swimming, and water polo finals, completing the list of venues that will put 16 Olympic sports within walking distance of each other.

Architectural concept rendering of inside the proposed Brisbane Arena / Brisbane Live

The Queensland government construct the 17,000 seat arena above the railway tracks and Cross River Rail’s new Roma Street underground station. After the games, the Brisbane Arena will provide a new indoor entertainment centre, something Brisbane’s CBD has not enjoyed since the demolition of the old Festival Hall in 2003.

BrisBIM March 23

BrisBIM is now back int the full swing of face-to-face presentations, after a number of years of disruption caused by Covid, where many of the events were cancelled.

The February event has come and gone and was sponsored by Building Point, this was the first presentations series for this year and the attendance at QUT was quite high with around 150 people in attendance.

Sponsorship for the upcoming events in April, July, October, and November is all locked in, with speakers also being picked for this event; We are looking forward to a great presentation series on all things BIM for this year.

If you wish to attend any of these events, simply go to the website and register.

Food and drinks are provided by the sponsor of the event and it’s a great networking opportunity.

Check out similar events in other states such as Victoria:

Attracting The Next Generation Is All In The Details

By Simon Schmitt

With operations in eight countries and team of over 900 highly trained professionals, DBM Vircon is one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated 3D modeling, detailing and digital engineering companies in the world. Despite the depth and breadth of their expertise, and work on some amazing projects, DBM Vircon is facing skills shortages and challenges when it comes to attracting the next generation of detailers—just like much of the steel supply chain.

As DBM Vircon’s Global General Manager of People, Performance and Culture Emily Bates described, “We’ve always had a tough market in which to recruit because steel detailing is quite niche. However, post-COVID, it is even more difficult. While we are still finding talent, it is taking longer to fill roles and we are paying above market rates”.

The changing nature of steel detailing, and a shift towards digital delivery for large-scale construction, infrastructure and mining projects, is also impacting downstream skills and recruitment.

According to DBM Vircon’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Campbell, “The traditional steel detailing skillset was focused solely on detailing and delivery of shop drawings. We now find ourselves operating across a much broader remit, working not only for steel fabricators, but for general contractors, engineering houses, and asset owners. This has expanded the skillsets we rely upon to encompass 3D modelling, animation and digital engineering using advanced software. So, while the pool of talent becomes broader, that same talent also has a broader choice of roles”.

The next generation of steel detailers

Faced with such a competitive market, DBM Vircon has responded with a raft of strategies designed to help attract top talent. In particular, their formal four-year cadet program is designed to help target the next generation of steel detailers.

Established in 1964, DBM Vircon’s structured, on-the-job training and development program encompasses many or all aspects of design, 3D modelling, detailing and digital engineering. It goes above and beyond standard professional development to include one-on-one mentoring and in-depth career guidance. This ensures that cadets develop important inter-personal skills, grow in confidence, and are empowered to be the best.

With steel detailing much more integrated with the engineering process, and engineering houses often lacking in-house resources, DBM Vircon is taking on more and more design assist work. As a result, their cadets have the opportunity to work on more advanced tasks. For instance, where cadets were historically responsible for more basic items like handrail and grating, today they are working with parametric custom components. As digital natives, cadets are readily able to pick up and run with advanced technology and quickly become valuable members of the team.

Paul Manning, one of DBM Vircon’s Senior Project Managers, is responsible for the cadet program. According to Manning, “Historically, we recruited a few cadets in each office every year. While that fell away for a while, we are now committed to bringing on, and building up, young professionals every year. In October and November, we reach out to local TAFEs in an effort to recruit their graduates. This process has been quite difficult over the last few years. We have struggled to attract the right candidates.”

Attracting top talent

As well as offering cadetships and other entry pathways into the business, to attract and retain talent the industry needs to diversity its approach to recruitment. For example looking for people in divergent industries with transferrable skills. For instance, video game programmers often possess the skills, and use similar software and systems, as a digital engineer.

Recruitment strategies have also seen a shift to focusing more heavily on the company culture than has traditionally been done. By showcasing a company’s culture and taking a holistic approach in creating a value proposition for the new employee, you are giving them a compelling reason to stay. Promoting the high-profile global projects as a career pathway, and any opportunities to work in offices around the world allow potential employees to plan their careers within the organisation.

The steel industry is becoming more and more progressive and embracing new technology. From steel detailing through to fabrication and erection, technology is now embedded in all aspects of the industry. Steel is no longer the industry of the boilermaker working in a dark workshop. It is a professional environment that leverages innovative, cutting edge technology to build some of the world’s most impressive pieces of infrastructure. As an industry, we need to work together to promote this image to help attract the next generation of steel detailers.

Your ACMA needs YOU!

The ACMA is seeking Expressions of Interest from the membership for positions on a range of sub-committees. Current committees in operation include;

  • Documentation and Technology
  • Marketing
  • Membership Sales and Service
  • Training and Professional Development

If you have an interest in these matters or would like to be more involved in the Construction Modellers Association, please contact us with your preference and desired level of participation.

The Board is still developing guidelines or By-laws for these Committees and are keen to engage with members from all states and all disciplines of modelling to ensure your association delivers the benefits you are looking for.

2022 Australian Steel Convention

Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney

An event wrap-up, by Clayton Roxborough

The Australian Steel Convention kicks off every year with a meet and greet function on the Sunday night, and this year it was a sunset cocktail affair held right on the waterfront in Circular Quay at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The venue boasts a large outdoor area with fabulous views across the water to the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It was an excellent way to catch up with friends and colleagues and tune in to the industry hubbub and latest steel industry narrative.

The message for this year’s event was Active and Vital. The plenary sessions were hosted by Adam Spencer, author, comedian, and radio announcer, and he kept the proceedings bright, moving well, and on schedule.

In an ever-changing landscape, the Australian steel industry needs to be prepared to adapt to advancing technologies, sustainability and environmental concerns, and a rapidly changing economic outlook.

With the theme of the event being Adaptive and Vital, many of the sessions focused on Environmental Sustainability and Innovation in steel products, processes, and developments. Of particular interest for me in this area was David Dawson’s take on Integrated Project Delivery and project de-risking through early engagement of steel detailers.

David Dawson – DBM Vircon

Other highlights included a series of project case studies that included the Lachlan Line Bridge in Sydney and the Kalbarri Sky Walk in Western Australia. I thought that both presentations were well delivered, and kept interesting by the speakers showing plenty photos and videos taken during fabrication and erection of the structures. The Case Studies concluded with Q&A sessions which brought to light many of the unique issues that had to be overcome by the design and construction teams.

Lachlan Line Bridge – S&L Steel | Sky Walk – TerpKos Engineering

The annual Gala dinner on was held on Monday night at the Ivy Ballroom.  Always a glittering event with three courses and fine wine, and this year was no exception. The ASI management out did themselves and arranged for dinner guests to be entertained by guitar virtuoso, Johnny Diesel.

Day two of the convention was followed by industry break-out meetings including the Fabricators Forum, Roller Formers Forum, Steel Distributors council meeting and the Nation Steel Detailers Forum.

The Convention concluded with a casual gathering at the hotel for a few quiet beers, sponsored by the ASI & the Fabricator’s forum, before everyone headed home.

Facing the Challenges of the Construction Modelling Industry Western Australia Update

By Simon Schmitt

As is well stated in economic circles, Western Australia’s economy is heavily dependent on mining projects, this is the primary driver of demand for construction modelling services in this state. However, the industry is facing significant skills shortages, an undersupply of rental accommodation for skilled migrants, and a lagging system of proactively bringing young workers into the industry. This maelstrom of events is causing delays in bringing projects forward and is increasing competition for available talent.

Unpacking one of the biggest issues facing the industry, the shortage of skilled workers is not necessarily limited to Western Australia. Attracting and maintaining talent is impacting many national and international markets. Engineering and steel detailing companies are often competing within the same resource pool, making it difficult for some businesses to find and retain qualified professionals. The shortage is causing significant delays in project design, which in turn is causing project stalls.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, we have been left with a new normal, there is an older generation that have re-evaluated a time of new beginnings in retirement and a new workforce focused on striking a balance with work and home. Flexible working arrangements and how employees feel valued within a company’s culture is now extremely important. This new workplace culture and back filling of retirees will inevitably have an impact on productivity as a whole. While I personally believe these challenges will be overcome as technology continues to advance, and project teams drive new and innovative ways to work together, I see short term challenges continuing to prevail.

One such technology covered in an excellent article by Phil Shanks in this edition touches on AI and how this technology may start to impact the world. Is it a glorified search engine come spell checker, or will it open doors to help alleviate some of the mundane administration, better freeing up our talent to work on more productive things? Time will tell, but I believe it’s an exciting time of change and opportunity for businesses and the construction modeller alike to build better and more productive ways of working.

As we know, the shortage of skilled workers is driving up wages for talent and making it increasingly difficult for companies to compete for the best workers. However this can also present opportunities for those construction modelling companies that are adaptable and have skillsets to work in new and innovative ways. It is increasingly rare to begin projects with anything close to a finalised design, as engineering companies are also pushed to deliver faster with the same constraints on talent. Engineering companies are seriously looking at how to partner with steel detailers on projects with design assist and early engagement, recognizing that skilled labour is key to project success.

One such example overseas at the beginning of the year has been the acquisition by Engineering firm DeSimone of detailing group Dowco, a steel detailing firm in Canada. With 240 global production resources, it is now directly integrated in a model of early involvement with engineering. This trend of fast tracking a connected model is likely to continue as the industry looks for ways to address the skills shortage and keep up with demand.

When it comes to addressing talent though immigration, Australia is well perceived as an attractive destination for many high skilled workers wishing to setup their life and family here. Countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand all have migrant populations over 20% with Australia at the high end of 30%. A majority of these workers fall into the high skills category, which is something Australia has previously tapped into for full advantage.

When it comes to attracting skilled migrants to Western Australia and Australia in general however, there are the obvious challenges of where to house these workers. Perth as an example, currently has the lowest vacancy rate on record at just 0.7%. It is incredibly difficult for workers to find suitable accommodation. This situation is going to require some real leadership from our local and federal governments to look at how we take the pressure off the housing market, but this issue will likely continue for quite some time.

This leaves us with the important task of back feeding our workforce with new talent. While the in-house training of cadets is a great way to develop a pipeline of good workers, the process can be time-consuming and costly especially for small to medium sized businesses. There also continues to be a challenge in attracting young talent to our industry. Construction modelling is something that seldom comes up in a young person’s vocabulary when deciding on one’s future career path.

The ACMA is currently looking at initiatives as to how other countries such as the UK manage this. How do other markets ensure their industries are supported with relevant training and Government funding? The overall aim being to develop a pipeline of good workers and help take some of the burden off SMEs who have previously done the heavy lifting to build up these relevant skillsets. This is critical work which will ensure the long-term success of the industry.

Despite all of these challenges, the Western Australian project pipeline remains strong. The region continues to see significant investment in mining, government infrastructure and other industries, which will continue to drive demand for steel detailing/construction modelling services. It is a great time to be a skilled construction modeller in WA, and an even better time to be getting into the industry as a young cadet.

Free Video – Introduction to Steel Detailing and Construction Modelling

With the support of ACMA the Australian Steel Institute (ASI) produced a webcast seminar “Introduction to Steel Detailing and Construction Modelling” which has been developed into an ASI eLearning course.  The eLearning course consists of a series of videos and associated quizzes with a certificate available on completion of the course.  The eLearning course is available at

The course content was prepared by Paul McLeod, Director of Tekcon Services (  Paul is an experienced Steel Detailer and Construction Modeller with over 25 years’ experience in steel detailing, education, business training and marketing.

With a shortage of experienced Steel Detailers currently occurring in Australia, this timely course  will provide those interested in Steel Detailing and Construction Modelling with an introduction to the background, processes, procedures and software involved in this key part of the building industry supply chain.

The course is broken into 3 parts:

  1. Introduction to Steel Detailing/Construction Modelling
  2. Fundamentals of Steel Structures from a Construction Modeller’s perspective
  3. A Deep Dive into Construction Modelling

ACMA has arranged for the video associated with part 1 of the course to be available to view free of charge from the ASI website at

You are welcome to use the video to assist in your communication with potential Steel Detailers/Construction Modellers and trainees.

Is your business suffering from a shortage of skilled Steel Detailers/Construction Modellers?

Australia’s skills shortage is having a significant impact on the steel and construction industries.

One reason for this skills shortage is the travel restrictions implemented in the wake of the

COVID-19 pandemic, which limited the number of overseas workers immigrating to Australia.

With Australia’s borders now re-opened, businesses including those employing Steel Detailers/Construction Modellers can take advantage of various business sponsorship visas to bring skilled workers to Australia.

To assist with this process, the ASI has recently released a brochure “Business Sponsorship – Visas and Procedures” to assist companies to bring skilled workers to Australia.

The brochure can be downloaded from the ASI website at

It includes Information on:

  • Sponsoring a worker – the process
  • Who can become a sponsor
  • Who you can sponsor
  • Where to go for help
  • Business Sponsorship, Skilled Visas (employer nomination required), Skilled Visas (state or territory nomination required), Permanent Residence (regional skills) visa, Labour Agreements, Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) visa.
  • Websites containing further information including the Skilled Occupation List and Visa processing times

Steel Detailers/Construction Modellers are covered by ANSCO code 312211 and are included under “Civil Engineering Draftsperson” on the following lists:

For further information please contact James England, ASI WA Manager at

Major phase out of South Australian coal-based steel

Story by AAP 

Australia’s GFG Alliance will phase out coal-based steelmaking at its Whyalla steelworks in South Australia, signing a supply contract for a $485 million low carbon electric arc furnace.

Liberty Steel plans to stop coal-based steelmaking at Whyalla, using natural gas and green hydrogen.© David Mariuz/AAP PHOTOS

The deal is being hailed as another major step in the reindustrialisation of the state’s Upper Spencer Gulf region via decarbonisation.

The investment by GFG’s Liberty Steel arm will take place alongside the SA government’s Hydrogen Jobs Plan.

South Australian Premier, Peter Malinauskas say that the new, Danieli furnace will lift steelmaking capacity at Whyalla from 1 million to 1.5 million tonnes per year.

“Whyalla and the broader Upper Spencer Gulf has enormous potential to lead the world in green hydrogen production, helping decarbonise industry across the planet,” he said in a statement.

“That’s why my government has selected Whyalla to be the home of our Hydrogen Jobs Plan, which will see the world’s biggest eletrolyser and hydrogen power station.

“We look forward to working with key industrial players, including Liberty, to take full advantage of the opportunity to reindustrialise the Upper Spencer Gulf on the back of this.”

Engineering work on the furnace is already advanced and construction is expected to be completed in 2025 replacing the site’s existing coke ovens and blast furnace.

Liberty has also engaged global equipment suppliers for the installation of a 1.8 million tonne per annum direct reduction plant, which would process local magnetite ore to produce low-carbon iron.

The plant would initially use a mix of natural gas and green hydrogen, before fully transitioning to green hydrogen.

Structural Engineering Design & Certification | Structural Steel Detailing | Precast Detailing

ACMA Member Profile

For this edition of the Eye for Detail, we introduce Damian Watson. Based in Victoria, Damian is the General Manager – Operations and Technology, for the Connex Group.

Damian Watson
General Manager of Operations & Technology

What’s your detailing story pre-Connex Group days?

It simply doesn’t exist. I mean, I completed an Advanced Diploma in Engineering and Technologies after year twelve, but that’s about it. At the end of my course, I soon realized that I was more interested in the drafting side of structural engineering. So I started door-knocking on local businesses that I felt were a good fit for me. I somehow managed to impress the owners of what was known as Quantech Design at the time and landed an entry-level job in Jan 2010.

Back then, Quantech Design was a small 3-4 man band, and I started doing simple 2D part drawings. As we all know, there is a steep learning curve when it comes to construction modelling. So I quickly learned to take detailed notes and do my own research, which proved valuable later in my career because it became the foundation for Operation Manuals that train our up-and-coming Modellers and detailers.

Over the years I honed my craft while working closely with Kevin. I even returned to school in 2016 while working full-time to study project management, which showed me how to adjust internal systems and processes to manage projects more effectively, especially from a contractual and information management front.

I slowly moved into managing large and more complex projects in the commercial, food and beverage, and government infrastructure sectors. One of my first big projects was modelling and managing the steel and precast panels for a multi-million dollar cheese plant in Stanhope. While a simple structure, the size and coordination required between myself and the process equipment guys made for a challenge to keep everything on schedule with an evolving design. This project was one of the key projects that really accelerated my learning curve and ultimately onto manage more prominent projects.

In 2018, the opportunity arose for me to buy into the business, which I jumped at. Since then, I have been focusing more on the business side while still providing technical support to our dedicated team members.

Is there anything about the early days in your career that you miss now?

Nothing that makes me too nostalgic, but in my early days, the information seemed to flow better and come to you whole. Today, it can sometimes come in drips and drabs or not come at all, and we find ourselves piecing it together like a one-colour puzzle. But in the end, it keeps us on our toes and makes us better problem solvers and changes the way we do things for the better.

What’s the history of Connex Group?

It all started back in 2005 when Fabian Burder and Kevin Feldtmann founded “Quantech Design” in Wangaratta. Initially, the company focused on mechanical engineering for machine design and agricultural equipment. However, due to a lack of continuity of work, Kevin branched out into structural steel detailing in 2007.

As the business continued to grow within our small office, the decision was made in 2015 to split the two divisions of Quantech Design into two separate businesses – the mechanical engineering side remained as Quantech Design, and the structural steel detailing side rebranded to Connex Group. At the time, Connex had around 5-6 staff members, but as we started to win more significant projects, the team began to grow.

In 2017, we added a structural engineering division to our offerings, further expanding our capabilities. And by 2022, Connex Group had grown to a team of 25. It’s been quite a journey since its early days at Quantech Design, and the excitement continues as we look towards the future.

Has there been a defining project or period for Connex Group?

As a Steel detailing firm, we have had the opportunity to work on some fascinating projects, but I would say that one of the defining periods for Connex Group was when we took the leap and completed a series of large projects. This really gave us the momentum and confidence to take on even more complex builds and establish ourselves as a reputable player in the industry.

Another defining moment was when we decided to start our structural engineering department. With the capacity to provide both the services of Structural Engineering and Shop Detailing within Connex Group, our clients benefit from a streamlined process, where time-consuming RFI’s are avoided or simply dealt with in-house. The close collaboration between engineers and detailers has also had the added benefits of an enhanced understanding of engineering design and principles for our detailers and a practical and buildable design approach for our engineering staff. It has been a great addition to our business and has helped us stay ahead of the curve regarding industry best practices.

What are the most satisfying aspects of your work?

It’s the process of problem-solving and the feeling of progress as you work through a project. There is a mix of curiosity and uncertainty (almost a gnawing insecurity) that comes when you start a new project. You are yet to know what you don’t know and things that we don’t know can become true can bite us. But as you dive in and start working, you experience a growing sense of satisfaction as you solve problems and move the project forward. Despite the challenges and sometimes relentless pressure, an incredible feeling of accomplishment comes from seeing a project come to life.

I have appreciated the opportunities that this industry has afforded me. I have been able to work with various people from different backgrounds and learn from their experiences. I have been exposed to new ideas and technologies that have helped me grow personally and professionally. Overall, the holistic nature of this industry and my career has kept me engaged and motivated. Starting at an entry-level position and transitioning from an employee to a senior leadership role, and then to an owner is incredibly rewarding. There is a satisfaction that comes with that kind of journey.

The cherry on the cake is when you watch your team follow in your footsteps and achieve similar outcomes.

What was the primary motivation for joining the ACMA? or maybe, what do you see as the biggest benefit of ACMA membership?

As a regional detailing firm, the primary motivation was to try and connect with like-minded professionals and share experiences. To network, collaborate, and learn from other industry experts. By participating in ACMA events and activities we can stay up-to-date on the latest industry issues and trends, which helps us better serve our industry. Additionally, it gives us a voice to advocate for our world and influence positive change. Overall, the most significant benefit of ACMA membership is the opportunity to build strong relationships and grow personally and professionally within our industry. So hoping to see you all out and about.

What do you see as the main challenges facing our industry?

I believe that one of the main concerns is mental health. Detailing is not for the faint of heart. The looming pressure of deadlines and the copious amounts of daily decisions, thoughts, and changes can take a toll on our mental health. We care a lot about results, and our minds are always on, even at home, stressing about minute detail. We have seen it burn people out and create anxiety. Business owners and leaders must advocate and support our employees’ mental well-being while delivering results. It is a fine line and something we all should be thinking about.

What software package does Connex Group use, and what were the deciding factors that prompted your choice?

We use Tekla Structures and their sister packages, it was ultimately the leading software when we first started Structural detailing back in 2007, and it still has a strong reputation in the industry. I am sure we are not the only ones. We have invested a lot into Tekla, and It’s overall a safe choice for us in terms of what it can output, its customization, how it continually evolves and its compatibility with other professions in our industry.

Was there a defining event that helped the decision to go down the 3D survey path?

For us, it was a matter of efficiency and safety on the job site. We were tired of spending so much time crawling around in hard-to-reach spaces with tape measures and lasers, and we knew there had to be a better way. That’s when we decided to invest in a 3D point cloud scanner. It has revolutionized how we gather information from site and has made these jobs much easier and safer. Simply a no-brainer for us and has been one of the top 3 technology investments we’ve made.

What is the Value-add for 3D modelling services?

I believe the value add is what you put into it. It can be as simple as getting out of the office, seeing how our work plays out, and seeing how it can improve. Seeing how your drawings and data progress through each step until completion is eye-opening. Value is working with your clients and making a big impact on their world. We can’t just sit in our comfy chairs and assume how we do things will work perfectly. By being on-site and closely following our projects, we can pick up on little nuances that enhance our models and drawings and ultimately deliver more value to our clients. There’s a big difference between knowing what to do and putting that knowledge into practice. Bridging that gap to turn your explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge will create value. The 3D modelling is just the vessel in which we deliver information.

Can you tell me about the Gap Year & Cadetship program offered by Connex Group?

As a regional-based company, we have a commitment to our local community to provide opportunities for young people to pursue rewarding careers without having to move to the city and leave their friends and families behind. We understand that many students in their final year of high school may not have a clear idea of what industry they want to work in or what career path they want to take. That’s why we’ve designed a gap year program that provides a unique experience for local students to gain exposure and experience in the construction & engineering industry to help them decide what they want to do.

While their primary duties will be within the steel detailing division, we’ve tailored the program to provide a broad experience in the industry by offering rotations through our structural engineering department, point cloud scanning, and our industry partners through fabrication, project management, and project site erection.

We are fortunate to be partnered with La Trobe University-Engineering, which guarantees all students who participate in our program an automatic placement into Engineering at La Trobe’s Bendigo Campus. So we understand that our Cadets may choose to pursue further study after completing the program, and we’re happy to facilitate and offer guidance on Uni, Uni work experience or career options post-graduation, which might see them back in the region and even pursuing a career through Connex.

In addition to gaining industry experience, participants will also complete several short courses to add further to their skill set, such as White Card and First Aid. We’re committed to providing our Cadets with a well-rounded experience setting a good foundation for them to have successful careers in the industry should they choose so.

National Steel Detailer’s Forum – Sydney, 11th October 2022

by Clayton Roxborough

The Steel Detailer’s Forum was held in the afternoon of the second day of the Australian Steel Convention. The meeting was well attended again this year, with strong showings from Queensland and Western Australia in particular, as well as members from Victoria and New South Wales. Also in attendance were Tom Malloy and Jason Carpenter from Building Point Australia, re-sellers of Tekla Structures software.

The forum agenda listed three primary topics for discussion.

  • Changes to Tekla software licencing, from perpetual to subscription
  • National Skills shortage
  • Steel Detailer Training

When discussing the first topic, Tekla licencing, it was great to have the Building Point guys in the room. Many of the attendees were Tekla users who had been grappling with the changes at both business and commercial levels, but the discourse remained respectful and practical, which was encouraging to witness.

Jason Carpenter mentioned that the new licensing supports stronger surveillance and policing with regards to preventing the use of pirated software and hence supports fairer competition between steel detailing/construction modelling companies. As an outcome of this forum, he committed to providing extra information and resources for Tekla users surrounding the identification of pirated Tekla output. Jason’s contribution is covered in this edition of the Eye for Detail in his article on Licence Compliance.

Australian detailing firms are not alone in coming to grips with the changing licencing and fee structures of Tekla. In the USA, the steel detailing industry is represented by the National Institute of Steel Detailers (NISD). In this edition of the ACMA e-magazine, we share an articled put together by NISD president, Kerri Olsen, which articulates the concerns of our American counterparts.

Skills shortages are an issue that surfaces with every peak and trough in the economic cycle and the Australian circumstance is not unique in the world. At this years forum we were joined by the president of the Philippines Construction Modellers Association, Russell Neal. Russell shared the current experience of the PCMA regarding the scarcity of skilled steel detailers and construction modellers in the Philippines and how this has lead to endemic and predatory poaching of drawing office staff. This situation always results in a lack of trust between employers and employees, because they could up and leave for a dollar more, and isolation of detailing businesses right across the industry. Firms refuse to collaborate on large projects and contracts become an all-or-nothing affair. This in turn can lead to increased competition, driving down tender prices and putting pressure on real wages for all staff. The ACMA invited the Russell to contribute an article to the Eye for Detail outlining the formation of the PCMA and the key objectives of the organisation.

With regard to the third topic, Steel Detailer Training, following outcomes of the forum discussion, the ACMA has been active in this area and Association Secretary, Phil Shanks, has put together an informative article providing some detail of a new training pilot program.

The forum went on to cover a wide range of other topics impacting everyone from the small, one-man detailing operation, right up to multi-national firms, their staff and their sub-contractors.

The National Forum provided an excellent opportunity for Construction Modellers and Steel Detailers from around Australia to gather and discuss the issues affecting our industry, however, considering the forum was being held in Sydney I was a little disappointed in the lack of representation from the home state, with only one NSW member attending…. and that was Chris Velovski (EDC) who drove from Newcastle for the event.

For all who attended, thank you for your participation and input, and we hope to see you again at the 2023 Detailers Forum planned for Melbourne in September.


By NISD President, Kerri Olsen

Our lives are now driven by technology and few of us take time to unplug. There are those among us who live for it, thrive on it and are grateful for it. There are those who understand this as technology slavery, which came upon us as subtle as an afternoon breeze, is now seen as a catastrophic storm.

I recently attended a downtown Tacoma event with a venue parking garage. Payment for parking was made by phone or onsite machine. Simple and efficient, just insert the vehicle plate number, parking slot number, debit card, and parking is paid! This day, the line at the machine was at a standstill due to an unresponsive pay machine. The live parking attendant – I don’t know why they have real people there, but they did – explained that the machine often has internet failures and we just have to wait. Those trying pay by phone were showing frustration as transactions remained incomplete.

As we all continued to wait, many were getting anxious as the event time drew near. Finally, the live parking attendant, assumingly trying to prevent an impending revolt, suggested to those waiting on the machine go on in to the venue, and to check back later to make payment. Worst case scenario, he said, was that we could get ticketed. I followed the others to enjoy the show. Returning to my vehicle hours later, no parking ticket was found and drove on home. I never did receive one in the mail, so my parking was free that day! Viva technology!

I am telling you this story intending to demonstrate that when we have to deal with internet issues and programs on a personal level, we remain able to circumvent to other things. We can revert to doing our tasks the old way, and that is acceptable. Most of what happens with internet and software does not seriously affect our daily activities (yet) but in our work environment, internet and software issues are more serious.

A perfect example of how software has destroyed our work-life freedoms is well demonstrated by the fact that we steel detailers are now software slaves. We absolutely are unable to work without the internet and steel detailing software.

Our software journey began with sales people hawking the belief that our hopes and dreams of easier, more productive and profitable work would become reality if we buy into their programs. We believed this with our whole heart and without question.

We accepted this ever-evolving software conundrum without complaint, even supporting development with our unpaid labour discovering bugs and broken functionality. What we have come to realize now is that this whole situation is more like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – the target just keeps moving and we never get the gold. It was all a myth, made up to help others build software empires at our expense. We bought into the lies.

What we do know is that the excessive cost of software cancels our profit. Productivity is minimal due to the continual learning and re-adjustments involved with constant software upgrades and changes to functionality. An undeterminable amount of unbillable time is spent with software education training and execution, adding considerably to the overhead expense.

Software companies, once a business with clients to serve is now the exact opposite. The steel detailer is completely at the servitude to very software that was professed to make us trade kings.

And it is not just steel detailing software which had made this ideal their business model – it is any software company which makes you constantly and continually pay for their use, subscription-based programs where you never own your data on your own machine, where you are not able to work without the internet and program functionality stops when the cash flow does. How is this a good way to operate and drive ANY steel detailing business?

Steel detailers are service companies which create a custom product. The costs involved with creating that custom product must remain economical in what is an extremely competitive market. It is impossible to maintain any product economy when you are slaves to the astronomical and continuing costs of steel detailing software licensing. There appears to be no relief in sight.

Currently, we have both legitimate steel detailing software license holders and illegitimate software users bidding the same work to clients who have no realization for software legitimacy. It is generally likely these clients will award their work to the lowest bidder. It is also generally very likely that the low bid steel detailer is the one with the least number of legal licenses.

Steel detailing software companies, effectively, are penalizing legitimate clients with unreasonable costs and requirements while piracy runs rampant, thereby supporting the low bid mentality we steel detailers battle every day.

Additionally insulting is the problem with software companies which continue with development without fixing that which currently does not work within their programs. We refer here to conditions which have not worked correctly for years, even though these problems are continually reported by software users to program sales and support. After years of requesting, watching and waiting, steel detailers now believe that program changes are being made simply to justify the continuing and added program costs, rather than with making their programs wholly workable. This behaviour is almost criminal to those who had loyally continued to pay support.

Perhaps the most disconcerting of all is what will happen during an economic downturn. Legitimately licensed steel detailers will be forced to close their companies due to the astronomical software maintenance costs, leaving our clients at the mercy of those detailing companies operating with illegitimate software. Steel detailing software companies now are effectively supporting the destruction of our trade, as unlicensed software users tend to be software operators who are not steel detailing trade professionals. Our industry clients, initially unable to tell the difference between good and bad detailing will not realize the truth until they are entrenched in the job, only then realizing the devastating result of poorly managed and poorly edited drawings.

Steel detailers have become frustrated and even angry with the conditions described here. Steel detailers around the globe actively seek alternate solutions and resources to achieve their goals for functionality and economy. If they are not already experiencing it, existing steel detailing software companies will soon see a decline in support payments and licensing sales.

As consumers, we still have power. We remain free to seek other options. We are able to support a different software which does not monopolize our data and require a constant cash flow commitment for us to do our job. While I understand the perfect option may not exist for us today, I am confident we will see solutions being offered to us in the near future.

What needs to be remembered is what I believe to be the most important thing of all. None of this software is making better steel detailers. None of this software enhances or replaces the knowledge or experience it takes to be a good steel detailer, but this is a whole different discussion. For now, steel detailers around the world are taking a hard look at their operating needs and costs for any workable solution which will set them free.

For more information about the US based, National Institute of Steel Detailing, go to NISD | National Institute of Steel Detailing

Open AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Shop Detailing

By Phil Shanks

I’m sure most of you have had a play around with Open AI or ChatGPT? If not, it’s worth looking into for interest sake.

For many years Shop Detailing software has had parametric modelling capabilities, by that I mean, you enter values into fields into a connection component, the parts of the connection are applied to meet these parameters. If the geometry of the main parts is adjusted, the connection is reshaped to suit those same parameters.

When this level of intelligence came out many years ago, it was mind blowing to say the least, as prior to this, all connections were modelled from shapes and were static, unintelligent objects.

Following on from parametric components and the ability to code components, gave rise to Detailing software’s interoperability with the likes of Grasshopper, which has enabled the user to map out a variety of parameters to manipulate objects in a model. Using this visual programming method, the user can connect programming elements together which dictate a set of rules for Tekla objects to follow:

Whilst the results of these advanced modelling features in impressive, the result is still very reliant on a Steel Detailer with decades of experience and an advanced understanding of programming, to deliver a parametric modelling outcome. The result is still reliant on constraints set in computer language and the outcome will not deviate outside those constraints – which isn’t a bad thing?

Software such as Tekla Structures has made a lot of headway in developing more sophisticated methods for drawing creation, however whether this is AI or not is debatable? For instance, the new Creation View they have developed enables the Detailer to adjust drawing creation settings, however, it still relies on human input, so its not quite AI is it? A sample of this tool can be seen in this short video:

A simple Web search on the topic of “AI and advance steel” reveals a video with the title of “Artificial Intelligence of Structural Detailing–Stairs, Railings & Plate Work”

I’ll let you be the judge as to whether this is AI or not?

It begs the question; Where is all of this heading? Are we all doomed, and will we all be out of a job? I have doubts about that. With every technical advance there comes disruption and those who are at the forefront of what is being developed, generally should be able to see a pathway forward and into the future.

Steel Detailers have a long and proud history of being early adopters of complex construction technology and are more and more being brought closer into the design space and not to mention making their mark when it comes to set-out on site using tools like total stations and scanners.

The future of Steel Detailing software does appear to be heading down the AI path, with a great deal of focus on using previous samples of projects to develop similar instances of new work. However, it doesn’t appear to be at a point yet where these tools can think for themselves, like the ChatGPT?

Below, I list a number of searches I have entered into ChatGPT, perhaps you may want to give this a go yourself?

  1. Does Steel Detailing software have AI capabilities?

Some Steel Detailing software may have AI capabilities, while others may not. It ultimately depends on the specific software and the features it offers.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) generally refers to the ability of a computer system to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as decision-making, pattern recognition, and natural language processing. In the context of Steel Detailing, AI could be used to automate some aspects of the design process, such as generating 3D models from 2D drawings or analyzing structural data to optimize the design.

Some Steel Detailing software may incorporate AI technologies such as machine learning or neural networks to automate certain tasks, while others may rely more on traditional rule-based approaches. It’s important to research the specific software you’re interested in to determine what features and capabilities it offers.

  1. Will AI make steel detailers redundant?

It is unlikely that AI will make steel detailers completely redundant. While AI can automate certain tasks and improve efficiency, there are still many aspects of steel detailing that require human expertise, creativity, and decision-making.

Steel detailing involves much more than just generating 3D models or analyzing structural data. It requires an understanding of engineering principles, building codes and regulations, and the ability to anticipate and solve complex design problems. It also involves close collaboration with architects, engineers, and other construction professionals to ensure that the final design meets their needs and specifications.

AI can assist steel detailers in performing certain tasks, but it cannot replace their critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills. Rather, AI can help steel detailers to be more productive and efficient, allowing them to focus on higher-level tasks that require their unique expertise and creativity. In this way, AI can be a valuable tool that enhances the capabilities of steel detailers, rather than a threat to their profession.

  1. Write me C# code which can calculate the area of a circle

Here is an example C# code that can calculate the area of a circle:

using System;

class Program
    static void Main()
        // Prompt user to enter the radius of the circle
        Console.Write("Enter the radius of the circle: ");
        // Read the user input and parse it to a double
        double radius = double.Parse(Console.ReadLine());
        // Calculate the area of the circle using the formula: A = πr²
        double area = Math.PI * Math.Pow(radius, 2);
        // Display the result to the user
        Console.WriteLine($"The area of the circle with radius {radius} is {area:F2}");

In this code, we prompt the user to enter the radius of the circle, then read and parse the input as a double. We then use the formula for calculating the area of a circle, which is A = π, where r is the radius. We use the Math.PI constant to represent the value of π, and the Math.Pow method to raise the radius to the power of 2. Finally, we display the result to the user using Console.WriteLine.

  1. Explain IFC in BIM in the style of Rik Mayall

Alright you lot, listen up! I’m gonna tell you about IFC in BIM, and I’m gonna do it in the style of the late great Rik Mayall!

Now, IFC stands for Industry Foundation Classes, and it’s all about making sure that different bits of information in a BIM project can talk to each other. It’s like getting all the different parts of a jigsaw puzzle to fit together, so that you can see the big picture.

You see, when you’re working on a BIM project, there’s a lot of different software and tools involved. You might have architects, engineers, contractors, and all sorts of other people using different programs to create models and data.

But if they’re not all speaking the same language, things can get messy. That’s where IFC comes in – it’s like the translator that helps everyone understand each other.

So when you hear someone talking about IFC in BIM, just remember that it’s all about communication. It’s about making sure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, so that we can all work together to create something amazing.

And if you don’t get it, well, that’s just tough bananas, innit? But don’t worry, because with IFC in BIM, we’ll make sure everyone’s on the same page – even if they’re a bunch of bumbling idiots like us!

Have a look at this video on IFC from 1994. The vision they had at the time of making was on the money, the development in Detailing software on IFC has evolved, however the concept of greater interoperability still needs some work.

If you have anything to say about this article, please feel free to write to us.

LOD for Steel Detailing and the confusion around model exchange

By Phil Shanks

There doesn’t appear to be anything out there which explains LOD (Level Of Detail) in Steel Detailing?

When entering a question such as this into a search engine “what LOD do Steel Detailers work to?” little to nothing is revealed regarding the different LOD’s Steel Detailers work to and there are variations which need to be understood.

Doing a search such as “level of detail and shop detailing” will reveal the standard explanations of LOD we are all familiar with seeing. The first which comes up when I search this is this:

This provides a generalised overview of the construction industry’s take on LOD, and is more focused toward the design side of the construction industry and not the Shop Detailing side for fabrication. That said, there is a section for LOD 400 (Fabrication) which in a broad sense does touch on what Steel Detailers deliver in a BIM to the industry, however we all know, there is more to it than whats described here.

If I entertain the ChatGPT once more, as a follow on from the earlier article and I type this same line in: “what LOD do Steel Detailers work to” this is what it reveals:

Steel detailers typically work to a Level of Development (LOD) of 300 or 400 for steel fabrication models. This means that the steel detailing model includes detailed information on the geometry, connections, and other attributes of the steel elements, such as plates, beams, columns, and trusses.

The Level of Development (LOD) framework is used in the construction industry to specify the level of detail and accuracy of information required for a particular stage of a project. The LOD concept is based on the idea that the level of detail and accuracy required for a particular model or drawing increases as the project progresses from the conceptual design stage to the construction stage.

In the case of steel detailing, a higher LOD means a more detailed and accurate model, which is essential for steel fabricators to accurately estimate the cost and time required to fabricate and install the steel elements. Generally, the higher the LOD, the more time and effort is required to produce the model.

A number of sample images which can be found on the web which are designed to explain LOD visually can be of some help, but fall a bit flat when it comes to expressing what LOD means for Steel Detailing, as per this image here:

Example 1:

This image below would make more sense to a Steel Detailer that the one above, however its still lacking context.

Example 2:

LOD is designed to measure completeness of a BIM element and as can be seen in the two example images above, LOD 400 would best describe the complete modelling effort which is required for a fabrication issue.

Example 2 image has an additional LOD 350, this would suggest from a Steel Detailing point of view the commencement of the connection development and LOD 400 being the completion of the connection. This is important from a Steel Detailing point of view, as there are two stages to BIM development:

  • Stick modelling of elements
  • Model completion and the start of the Shop Drawing process

When a Steel Detailer works on a BIM project, where the consultants are contracted to deliver an LOD 300 model, it is expected that the BIM developed by the consultants is to have precise geometry. If the steelwork elements of the Engineer’s BIM are not set out accurately and are not in alignment with the Architect’s BIM, the Engineer’s BIM cannot be @ LOD 300? And therefore, cannot be used for any layout purposes as the geometry cannot be trusted.

In the Example 2 image above, LOD 100 to LOD 300 from the perspective of a Steel Detailer, can be considered the development phase of the element. It isn’t until LOD 350 is reached and then LOD 400 is achieved that the element becomes complete.

With all this said and perhaps a little more light shed on what LOD means for Steel Detailing, there is a lot more to understand about BIM completeness than just the model its self. One of the most important aspects of BIM is the data attributed to the element, whether it be material data, client data or cost code data which is used to ascertain the value / price of an element, this information is invaluable to many modern projects.

It could be said that there may be a need for another LOD after 400? An LOD to define the addition of data related to the BIM, which is used by the client during the construction phase and the LOD 500 closes the project out with AS Built information. LOD 450 could be a meta data definition?

Design consultants typically work to development gateways such as:

  • Schematic Design (SD)
  • Design Development (DD)
  • Construction Documentation (CD)

These are the gateways the industry refers to when expressing the development stage of design consultant’s BIM. Under these gateways, there is often a % which is intended to describe the level of completeness of that gateway; for example, 70%DD. The problem with this method of measurement is that these percentages aren’t qualified with any meaning as to what it means for an engineer’s model for example, to be at 70% DD, therefore it can be a problematic tool to use and can often be misleading.

Whilst the maturity of BIM is quite high with reference to BIM in a silo sense, the confusion comes into play at BIM collaboration time, as the gateways which are used for Exchange Model (EM) are generally unqualified and the LOD for each discipline is not generally clearly articulated.

An analogy to use to compare a BIM gateway could work is a Plunge dip. These dips are used to help control pests on cattle. Cattle are herded up to a yard and then they are flowed through a narrow channel, so they only move in one direction towards a gate. The gate is opened when they are free to enter the dip, then they move through the dip and the pesticide is applied. The cattle are controlled by this system so there is an efficient means of application, which doesn’t cause a chaotic event.

If the design gateways were qualified with a measurable application, they could be used to identify gateways for information flow and collaborative work could be more ordered. If the industry also recognised what LOD means for Steel Detailing, this could also come into play when developing BIM management plans which are designed to deliver outcomes on projects.

Steel Detailers work to a high level of accuracy which requires design information certainty. To summarise, Steel Detailers work to an LOD of higher than 300, to the tune of LOD 400 and with data attributed, pushing the measurement up to a value of LOD 450. To achieve outcomes with least wasted effort in steel Detailing, the gateways of information exchange need to be clear; a design consultant’s model cannot be less than LOD 300 and any HOLD register must be clearly articulated.

Project Showcase – West Gate Tunnel Project

  • Builder: CPB contractors and John Holland joint venture
  • Designer: Aurecon and Jacobs joint venture
  • Detailer: Steelforce Industry Solutions Pty Ltd (ACMA member)
  • Steel fabricator: Haywards Steel

As part of Victoria’s Big Build, the elevated section above Footscray Rd runs approximately 500m from the Maribyrnong River to Citilink.

The bridge is comprised of twin trough girders weighing in at approximately 2200 tonnes and incorporating a twist in geometry as the bridge transitions from left to right. In addition, cambers and varying design depths needed to be considered in the construction model. As part of project deliverables, there was also a requirement to incorporate all relevant fabrication tolerances, resulting from welding shrinkage/distortion, in the final outputs.

Upon completion, the project is expected to remove approximately 9000 trucks a day from local and residential streets.

Company Profile – Steelforce Industry Solutions Pty Ltd

Directors – Dardo Uteda and Darren Kirwin

Steelforce Industry Solutions Pty Ltd (

Established in 2005, Steelforce Industry Solutions Pty Ltd aims to combine personalised service and high-quality products to the industry. Their team of highly experienced 3D modelers and Steel Detailers utilize the latest versions of Autocad / Advance Steel / Key Creator (formerly Cad Key) combined with extensive customization, allowing us to deliver a product beyond the “out of the box” capabilities of these and similar products. Additionally, extensive experience with surfacing and surveying software, coupled with the ability to create custom programs for single or repetitive tasks, place Steelforce Industry Solutions in the best possible position to provide a complete solution for your project.

Steel Detailer Training

By Phil Shanks

As Steel Detailers in this country, we understand that there is no formal training for the work we do, we generally undergo a 4-year cadetship at a Steel Detailing firm and learn from those experienced professionals in senior positions within the firm.

After 4 years, it takes many more years to fully understand all that is required to be a senior Steel Detailer / Construction modeller. This is a long road as there is so much to learn and understand.

Our profession is the link between design and manufacturing, we need to learn to understand language of design from the many disciplines which take part in the documentation of a structure and not all structures speak the same language, there are nuances we need to understand and at times, we need to know what is not documented – in a sense, be a mind reader.

As a senior detailer / checker, we are looking for what’s not documented so that we can prepare questions in the form of an RFI, and for those who do this well, it’s an artform.

The ACMA board have been considering Detailer (Construction modeller) training for many years, mostly with the consideration of how we tackle such a large project with minimal resources available to provide the training content. There are TAFE courses which focus mostly on Engineering and Architecture, but there is nothing that specifically addresses the work undertaken by a Steel Detailer.

The ACMA board has engaged the services of Paul McLeod of Teckon Services to act on behalf of the ACMA to facilitate discussions with a Detailer training organisation in the UK, to determine whether the content and course material is relevant to the Australian Steel Detailing sector. We have also reached out to Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to see if this UK vocational training can also be coupled with some TAFE courses which are suitable for Steel Detailing, which could in turn add more weight to the training by way of a TAFE Certificate.

At this stage of the development, we have most of the foundations of the vocational training worked out, however we are still working on what could be done with regard to partnering with an RTO and also what state-based funding there might be available to reduce the cost for the course.

The ACMA is seeking expressions of interest from the membership, to see if any of the businesses have any cadets they would be willing to put through a pilot course? As you may understand, to take this to the next stage, we need to see if there is interest in the Detailing community for formal training and the pilot would help refine the content delivered. There will be a cost for the pilot, however this cost it not yet finalised and at this point in time, we are only after numbers of potential candidates.

The aim of the Detailer training is to help guide cadets in the right direction from day 1. With any cost to a business there needs to be value proposition and the ACMA believes with the right training, the time taken to train cadets to be more productive can be reduced and any bad habits ironed out early.

A few images of the marketing document which is being developed:

If you are interested in the pilot program, please email the ACMA and advise the quantity of cadets.

Steel Sustainability Australia

What is it and what does it mean for ACMA members?

In January, the Australian Steel Institute (ASI) released a new sustainability certification program for the steel industry, Steel Sustainability Australia (SSA) which is now open for online applications.

Superseding the ASI Environmental Sustainability Charter (ESC), the SSA certification program assesses environmental and social impact across the steel value chain in the manufacturing, fabrication and processing of steel. The independently audited program certifies downstream steel businesses such as fabricators, roll formers, and reinforcing processors, and verifies upstream steel producers against best practice environmental, social and governance (ESG) indicators.

The SSA program was developed by consultants thinkstep-anz in consultation with the steel industry and the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and is a recognised initiative under the GBCA Responsible Products Framework, gaining ‘Good or Best practice’ product recognition in the Green Star Buildings rating tool.

ACMA members will soon see requests for SSA certification included in project specifications to provide surety that steel suppliers and their products are sustainably manufactured and processed and are sourced through responsible and ethical supply chains, thereby supporting end users with their sustainability related targets.

To find out more information, visit the SSA website: or contact ASI Sustainability Manager, Jerusha Beresford on

Tekla Structures License Compliance

At BuildingPoint Australia, we are here to ensure ACMA members have the tools required to have a positive experience when dealing with subcontractors both locally and overseas.

One key part of a positive experience is having clarity when engaging with subcontractors for the first time. Although we have seen a reduction in piracy with the online licensing, we still encourage checking licenses and models. Currently, you have multiple ways to check the legitimacy of these.

  1. License Check
    1. Illegitimate licenses will corrupt your models or have hidden malware and ransomware that can ruin your business, causing delays, and loss of money and time. For Perpetual licenses, never loan your licenses to anyone outside your company; your licenses are your investment and once installed in someone else’s machine, you won’t have any control over what happens to them. Check that the company has enough legitimate licenses by contacting us at or visiting our “Check your subcontractor’s license
  2. Model Check
    1. By requesting a sample model (.db1 or .ifc) of the detailing company’s past work, you can confirm that it has properly trained employees who are able to do the job according to your standards. Why a sample model? PDFs of drawings are easy to forge and could have been created by another company and passed off as their own work.

Models (.db1 or .ifc) can be checked by sending it to us at

Trimble take license compliance seriously and will continue to work on a global scale with ITCA; a company that acts as a trusted third party to facilitate software vendors and their clients to tackle the issues around software licensing.

For more information, please contact the team at BuildingPoint Australia or visit

Tekla Structures Apprenticeships

Building Point Australia & Trimble have recently released apprentice licensing to continue to assist with the local skills shortage.

Unlike the Tekla Educational licenses, Tekla apprentice licenses are now available for apprentices to work commercially on project work.

BuildingPoint Australia have engaged with AI Group to investigate the current State and Federal Government incentives and subsidies for Employers hiring apprentices.

  1. Current Opportunities
    1. one-off incentive payments
    2. subsidies (wages, training)
    3. discounts (workers’ compensation)
    4. exemptions (payroll tax).

We are currently working with Universities, Tafe Campus’s and Educational facilities across Australia and New Zealand to further assist with reversing the skills shortage by providing courses becoming available late 2023.

For more information on State and Federal Government incentives and subsidies visit:

For more information on apprentice licenses, please contact the team at BuildingPoint Australia:


Jason Carpenter
Segment Manager – Steel and Construction
BuildingPoint Australia Pty Ltd

Project Showcase – JCU TIC

James Cook University Technology Innovation Complex

  • Client: CSF Steel Fabricators
  • Main Contractor: Besix Watpac
  • Architect: Richard Kirk Architect
  • Structural Engineer: Robert Bird Group
  • Detailer: TD Drafting Services

By Tony Dwyer Owner Manager – TD Drafting Services

The new JCU TIC buildings in Townsville is an $80 million project within the James Cook University complex.  With a steel tonnage of over 730t, this project would prove to be one of the most challenging constructions in Townsville for contractors since the Queensland Country Bank Stadium some 5 years ago.  TD Drafting Services is also very proud of detailing this stadium with many of the same contractors on JCU TIC.

The highly complex geometry of the roofs and ceilings to this project cannot be understated.  With multi-faceted ceiling pitches independent of roof geometry, the ceiling support steelwork was underslung at various angles to an already complex roof.

With only semi-complete design documents from the commencement of the project, this challenge required all the skills TD Drafting Services was able to bring to the table including quality RFI management, design solutions to ongoing problems, high end detailing software and good old fashioned quality detailing standards.

Utilising Autodesk’s Advanced Steel enabled TD Drafting Services to provide all the smart files to CSF Steel Fabricators from NC1/DXF files through to the advanced formats required for CSF’s robotic welding machine along with all other deliverables industry expects.  This assisted CSF greatly to achieve a streamlined fabrication process.  Advanced Steel also allowed TD Drafting to collaborate with consultants using Autodesk’s Revit and Navisworks.  Utilising software from within the one family tree brought advantages to this project.

Besix Watpac were keen to further engage the high-level skills of our team.  Along with steelwork, we provided extensive concrete modelling for use of other services such as Mechanical contractors and timber modelling with timber shop drawings for the bespoke featured timber surrounding the project.

Staff and I took pleasure in visiting the site during March 2023 to see the project up front.  It was also great to see the Cowboys win their first match of 2023 at QCBS!

It was a pleasure working within this project team and there was no shortage of genuine appreciation.

5 Trends We Expect to See in the Global Construction Industry

By Simon Schmitt

Construction is the largest industry in the world, accounting for 13% of global GDP. Recent analysis by McKinsey estimated that US$69.4 trillion in global infrastructure investment will be needed between now and 2035. And yet, as an industry, construction regularly underperforms. Over the last 20 years, it has experienced just 1% growth annually, with time and cost overruns commonplace.

However, with trends like the adoption of technology enabling data-driven decision making and reducing delays, material usage and costs, and a greater emphasis on circular economy solutions and diversification of hiring criteria, the global construction industry is poised for growth. Here are 5 trends we expect to see in the global construction industry:

Trend 1) A Transition to Digital Delivery

Over the last ten years, the construction industry has undergone drastic change, fueled by the adoption of new technology. From remote sensing and the use of drones and robots, through to 3D printing of materials like geopolymers and concrete, technology is having a huge impact on construction.

The transition to digital delivery is—by far—the biggest technological trend to watch in the construction industry right now. The global Building Information Modelling (BIM) market is projected to reach US$10.7 billion by 2026 (up from US$6.6 billion in 2022), representing a 12.5% compound annual growth rate. North America is expected to be the market leader, accounting for over 30% of the global BIM market.

It is little wonder that the transition to digital delivery, encompassing lifecycle asset management via highly accurate digital twins, is gaining such momentum. Enabling data-driven decision making, digital delivery adds value at every stage of the Design-Build-Manage construction lifecycle, from initial scoping and 3D visualization, through to holistic ongoing asset management. It helps eradicate clashes early on, significantly reducing rework, schedule delays, material wastage and overall costs.

Smart buildings and infrastructure that integrate with the Internet of Things (IoT) will increase data availability and enable more efficient operations, as well as new business models.

Trend 2) Labour Shortages Encourage Diversification in Hiring Criteria

The United States, along with many other countries, is facing a skills crisis. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 2.8 million workers are missing from the labour force compared to February 2020. There are currently 11 million open jobs in the US, but only 5.7 million unemployed workers. So then, it’s little wonder that 91% of employers in the construction industry report difficulty filling positions. This skills crisis is expected to worsen with a portion of the US$1.2 trillion worth of funding allocated via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act starting to flow into the industry.

In Australia, the strongest job market in 50 years has significantly increased number of occupations suffering acute labor shortages. According to the National Skills Commission’s most recent annual Skills Priority List, the number of occupations where workers are in short supply jumped to 286 in 2022, up from 153 in 2021. These figures indicate that 31% of occupations are experiencing worker shortages.

To combat these labor shortages, diversification in hiring criteria is on the rise. There is a real shift away from requiring candidates to have a trade qualification and a specific number of years of experience. Instead, employers will focus on hiring new employees who possess the right transferrable skills, attitude and culture fit.

More and more, employers are upskilling, re-skilling and training new recruits on the job.  For instance, people with a background in video game development may have skills that can be used in construction visualization and planning. Hiring people with a more diverse skill set and a broader range of experience offers a raft of benefits—it can help bring a fresh perspective to traditional processes. It’s worthwhile to note that introducing a diversity of background in new candidates could also likely result in innovation or disruption of traditional business practices – construction drawings may need to be presented in a way that is easier for a less experienced person to interpret; or construction sequence animations might be used to explain delivery approaches rather than complex drawings and written work instructions.

Trend 3) Fluctuating Material Costs Will Continue

The cost of many building materials reached a peak in June 2022—surging by 40.4% compared to January 2020. While the price of some materials has started to decline, the normally stable prices of concrete, steel and bricks are increasing steadily. This is due to rising energy prices, with these materials requiring an energy intensive manufacturing process. Changes in commodity prices will also continue to cause fluctuations in material costs, particularly in markets like steel and aluminium.

As a result, industry stakeholders will continue to focus on initiatives that improve construction efficiency and reduce materials. Research is focused on the development of cutting edge materials like lighter, strong steel that can span greater distances, as well as the replacement of raw ingredients with recycled materials like slag.

Similarly, engineering and design teams will continue to focus on reducing materials from the ground up. Section sizes and members will be carefully reviewed and redesigned to reduce steel volume and cost.

Trend 4) Greater Emphasis on Circular Economy Solutions

According to the World Green Building Council, buildings are responsible for 39% of global energy related carbon emissions: 28% from operational emissions generated by heating, cooling and powering them, and the remaining 11% from materials and construction.

By 2050, as the global population reaches 10 billion people, building stock is forecast to double. Carbon emissions released during the construction of this building stock is expected to account for half of the world’s entire carbon footprint over the next 30 or so years.

More and more, government bodies, private developers and asset owners will place a greater emphasis on circular economy solutions that can help reduce these carbon emissions. They will move away from new greenfield projects, towards brownfield sites. For example, the Webster Avenue Bridge in Chicago is undergoing rehabilitation as part of the Bridge Investment Program, rather than building a new bridge.

The concept of design for reuse is also expected to become more widespread. The average lifespan of a structure is approximately 80 to 100 years. This means an asset that is initially designed and built as a commercial office, may transition into an apartment block at some point during its lifecycle. Increasingly, asset owners will focus on lifecycle cost analysis in the engineering phase, opting for flexible designs that enable cost-effective refurbishments and fit-outs in the future.

Trend 5) Prefabrication and Modular Construction to Grow

The modular construction market has experienced rapid growth over the last few years, which is set to continue. In fact, the global modular construction market is expected to grow from US$91 billion in 2022, to US$120 by 2027. This growth can be attributed to an increased emphasis on worker safety, the need for lower environmental impacts, and various government support programs in both the US and Australia. A growing population and swift urbanization will help accelerate this growth, as will new off-site production technology, such as automation and robotics.

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